AD Architecture School Guide: Jamia Millia Islama

is the science of human settlements. Students in the Department of Jamia Millia Islamia study settlements across India, including cities like (pictured above). Image Courtesy of shutterstock.com

With its current total population over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous nation in the world. What’s more, current demographics show that, rather than being concentrated, India’s population is spread throughout its states.  In demographic and statistical terms, then, India is ideally situated to provide architecture students with new insights into Ekistics, or the science of human settlements.

Founded in 2001 in response to the ongoing shifts in the urban landscape, the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics at Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University, grounds students in the ways that nature interacts with human needs/ethics in order to produce professionals instrumental in advancing a better built environment.

The Running Wall Residence / LIJO RENY architects

© Paveen Mohandas

Architects: LIJO RENY architects
Location: Kolasseri, , Kerala,
Design Team: Lijo Jos and Reny Lijo
Landscape: LIJO RENY.architects + Transform
Area: 507.93 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Paveen Mohandas

Pete Mane / Architecture Paradigm

© Anand Jaju

Architects: Architecture Paradigm
Location: Gundlupet, Karnataka, India
Design Team: Sandeep J, Vimal Jain, Manoj ladhad, Senthil Kumar and Shiraj
Area: 3,500 sqft
Year: 2012
Photographs: Anand Jaju

Is there a Future for India’s Stepwells?

Tourists in dutifully make the rounds, visiting the spectacular temples, palaces, and forts the country has to offer. But, even when they’re practically under their feet, people often forget about stepwells, the massive subterranean (up to ten stories) structures that dot the Indian landscape.

As this video explains, , first constructed around 300 CE, were born out of a need to dependably collect and store water. They boast highly complex circulation and ornamentation, and over the years have evolved to function also as community centres and temples. But, as architecture journalist Victoria Lautman has pointed out, with the spread of industrialisation and drought (not to mention widespread demolition), stepwells are slowly becoming derelict. 

Urban Planning Lessons from the World’s Largest (Temporary) City

© la_eclectic

For two months out of every twelve years, Allahabad in India becomes one of the most populous in the world – thanks to the Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu Festival that is the largest single-purpose gathering of people on the globe. In an article for Smithsonian Magazine, Tom Downey relates his experience of the Festival and sheds light on how a temporary city can swell to such astronomical sizes and still function as well as, if not better than, permanent cities. It is hoped that the research by Harvard Graduate School of Design at the Kumbh Mela can inform the construction of refugee camps, emergency cities and even permanent cities in the future. You can read the full article here.

Raas Jodhpur / The Lotus Praxis Initiative

© André J. Fanthome & Rajen Nandwana

Architects: The Lotus Praxis Initiative
Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan,
Lead Designers: Ambrish Arora (Lotus, New Delhi) & Rajiv Majumdar (Praxis, Bangalore)
Design Team: Arun Kullu, Radha Muralidharan, Anuja Gupta, Ruchi Mehta
Landscape Design: Akshay Kaul & Associates
Structural Design: BL Manjunath
Contractors: Buildkraft India & Moolchand Stone mason
Photographs: André J. Fanthome & Rajen Nandwana

Lateral House / Gaurav Roy Choudhury

© Tina Nandi

Architects: Gaurav Roy Choudhury
Location: , Karnataka,
Contractors: LISA and Ravikumar, Plumbtech Engineers, ACHU P. Enterprises
Area: 3,600 sqft
Year: 2013
Photographs: Tina Nandi

The House Cast in Liquid Stone / SPASM Design Architects

© Sebastian Zachariah

Architects: SPASM Design Architects
Location: , Maharashtra,
Design Team: Sangeeta Merchant, Mansoor Kudalkar, Gauri Satam, Lekha Gupta, Sanjeev Panjabi
Area: 638 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Sebastian Zachariah

The Long House / Khosla Associates

© Shamanth Patil J

Architects: Khosla Associates
Location: Bangalore, Karnataka,
Principal Designers: Sandeep Khosla and Amaresh Anand
Design Team: Sandeep Khosla, Amaresh Anand, Raju S. and Akanksha Chhajer
Area: 6,000 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Shamanth Patil J

Over Water / Design Workshop

© Hemant Patil

Architects: Design Workshop
Location: Pune,
Architect In Charge: Shabbir Unwala
Junior Architect For Project: Siddhath Rao
Structural Consultant: Vilas Agharkar
Main Fabricator: Sadik Inamdar
Year: 2010
Photographs: Hemant Patil

Interview: William Hunter Discusses Contested Urbanism in Dharavi

Dharavi Slum, , India; © Gynna Millan; Courtesy of Flickr User Development Planning Unit University College London

Dharavi – Asia’s largest slum of one million with an average density of 18,000 residents per acre – is amidst a heated debate between its people, the government and private investors as it sits on some of India’s hottest real estate in Mumbai. While the government is grappling for solutions on how to successfully dismantle the low-rise slum and relocate its residents to a high-rise podium style typology, the investor’s profit-driven approach has placed residents on the defense, “rendering Dharavi a perfect storm of contested urbanism,” as architect, urban designer and author William Hunter describes. 

In light of this, we would like to direct you to an interview by Andrew Wade of Polis in which discusses Dharavi’s dire situation and the motivation behind Hunter’s new book, Contested Urbanism in Dharavi: Writings and Projects for the Resilient City. Read the interview in its entirety here and read a recap on Dharavi’s situation here.

Kanpur Riverfront Development Proposal / Studio Symbiosis

Courtesy of

Designed as a sustainable master plan, the concept of water, waste, and energy management are integral to the concept of the Riverfront Development project. Proposed by Studio Symbiosis, conservation of energy on the basis of transport management has been designed as an active design element in the master plan, which is a part of an overall scheme for rehabilitation of the Ganga river and the Ganga riverfront. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Eagleton Weekend Home / VSDP

© Anand Jaju

Architects: Vivek Shankar Design Partnership
Location: ,
Project Team: Vivek V Shankar, Elayaraja Subhalekha, Sunetra Yousuf
Area: 6,500 sqft
Year: 2012
Photographs: Anand Jaju

India’s Forgotten Stepwells

Agrasen ki Baoli, Delhi. Image © Victoria S. Lautman

It’s hard to imagine an entire category of slipping off history’s grid, and yet that seems to be the case with ’s incomparable stepwells. Never heard of ‘em? Don’t fret, you’re not alone: millions of tourists – and any number of locals – lured to the subcontinent’s palaces, forts, tombs, and temples are oblivious to these centuries-old water-structures that can even be found hiding-in-plain-sight close to thronged destinations like Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi or Agra’s Taj Mahal.

But now, India’s burgeoning water crisis might lead to redemption for at least some of these subterranean edifices, which are being re-evaluated for their ability to collect and store water. With any luck, tourist itineraries will also start incorporating what are otherwise an “endangered species” of the architecture world.

Learn more about these stepwells’ curious histories, after the break…

Gurgaon 71 Residential Proposal / Maison Edouard François

© Luxigon

The 71 residential project proposal by Maison Edouard François represents French-style luxury living while simultaneously respecting Indian traditions. Located in Gurgaon, , these luxurious apartments make use of noble materials such as marble and wood and have large interiors, including double height spaces, and offer 360° views onto the surrounding landscape.  More images and architects’ description after the break.

DPS Kindergarden School / Khosla Associates

© Shamanth Patil

Architects: Khosla Associates
Location: ,
Principal Designers: Sandeep Khosla and Amaresh Anand
Design Team: Sandeep Khosla, Amaresh Anand, and Bijeta Bachaspati
Client: Annabelle Manwaring
Area: 35000.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Shamanth Patil

KMC Corporate Office / RMA Architects

© Robert Stephens

Architects: RMA Architects
Location: Cyber City, , India
Year: 2012
Photographs: Robert Stephens, Rahul Mehrotra, Courtesy of RMA Architects, Rajesh Vora, Carlos Chen

PA_House / atelier dnD

© Sebastian Zachariah

Architects: atelier dnD
Location: , India
Area: 20000.0 ft2
Year: 2012
Photographs: Sebastian Zachariah